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Tree Campus: Japanese Yew

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b


Japanese Yew

Taxus cuspidata (TAXACEAE)



Japan, Korea, China, S.E. Russia



"Yew poisoning is most common among livestock and wildlife in winter when the evergreen foliage is more attractive. Although yew leaves are typically considered to be of low palatability because of the volatile oils present, animals will eat the leaves readily, especially in winter when other forage is less available (Burrows and Tyrl). In 2017, deep winter snows throughout Idaho forced elk and pronghorn into more residential areas where they consumed fatal amounts of yew. Approximately 50 pronghorn were killed near Payette, seven elk were killed near Boise and an additional eight elk died in Idaho Falls, all after eating Japanese yew. Cattle have also been poisoned when yew branches have been clipped and the trimmings were left for the animals to feed on." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"The English yew is famous for being the stock for the legendary English longbow that helped win the battles of Hastings and Agincourt. Unfortunately the yew is also one of the most toxic of all poisonous plants and has been responsible for numerous deaths of livestock and even humans...

All species of yew are highly toxic; so much so that in legend even the shade of a yew tree was considered dangerous to anyone who might sleep underneath one." [1]



"Japanese yew is an attractive dense shrub, and its cold and shade hardiness make it popular for landscaping" [1]



[1] Tilley, D. 2017. Plant Guide for Japanese yew (Taxus cuspidata). USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Aberdeen Plant Materials Center. Aberdeen, Idaho, 83210.

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